2019 in Retrospect: Elections
By Jude Chukwuemeka
Morning Crossfire starts with general comments by Sheriff Quadry. He also touches on questions that may be hanging in the minds of Nigerians regarding the elections held in 2019.
Wemimo Adewuni speaks regarding the postponement of the general elections which had initially been scheduled for February 16, took Nigerians by surprise. Recall that the press statement we were greeted with in the early hours of Saturday, February 16 by the INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu who had said that the difficult decision had been made after reviewing the commission’s preparations and “following a careful review of the implementation of the logistics and operation plan” and in order “to conduct free, fair, and credible elections,”.
The elections finally took place the following weekend being Saturday February 23. Barely one week (4 days later), INEC officially declared President Buhari the winner with 56% of the votes to opposition leader Atiku Abubakar’s 41 percent.
The back and forth litigation following the results of the presidential election will be a discussion for another day.
Meanwhile, the governorship election conducted on March 9 was declared inconclusive in Adamawa, Benue, Bauchi, Sokoto, Kano, and Plateau, while INEC suspended electoral processes in Rivers State, all due to malpractices and violence in those regions. Supplementary elections were however conducted on March 23.
Let’s not forget also, that the elections were marred with violence. Wemimo points to the statement made by President Buhari, which drew the ire of some: "Anybody who decides to snatch boxes or lead thugs to disturb it, maybe that's the last unlawful action you'll take. I really gave the military and the police order to be ruthless. We're not going to be blamed that we want to rig elections. I want Nigerians to be respected. Let them vote whoever they want across the parties.”
There were 11 deaths specifically related to violent interference in the election process but the politically related violence reported in many states was in contrast to the relatively peaceful 2015 elections that brought Buhari first term in office.
According to a report by SBM Intelligence, which monitors socio-political and economic developments in Nigeria, 626 people were killed during the 2019 election cycle, starting with campaigns held in 2018.
The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room stated that no fewer than 39 Nigerians lost their lives in the last 48 hours of the elections. It went further to list the figures: Borno State – four; Bayelsa State – four; Rivers State – 16, Yobe State – two; Kogi State – Two; Ebonyi – Two, Lagos – One; Oyo – One; Delta – Two; Zamfara – One and Taraba State – Four.
In Lagos State, disruption of voting by suspected political thugs, who shot in the air in some places and set ballot boxes and papers on fire in others like Okota, Isolo and Oshodi suburbs of Lagos were also reported. Nonetheless, Babajide Sanwo-Olu was declared winner of the governorship election in Lagos.
Taking you to mid-November when Morning Crossfire covered the Kogi and Bayelsa elections. Like the elections held earlier in the year, violence was rife, with at least ten people reportedly killed in election-related violence in both states. In Kogi, Natasha Akpoti, governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) recounted how she was physically assaulted by thugs and continuously threatened by the opposition.
Whereas, Salome Abuh, the 60-year-old PDP women leader of Ochadamu Ward in Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi State was murdered in cold blood, two days after the election. Her house was set ablaze while she tried to escape but was not able.
Committee to protect journalists also reported that journalists were attacked and threatened while covering Bayelsa and Kogi state elections.
Morning Crossfire is a topical radio show on 99.3 Nigeria Info FM Lagos at 8 – 9am, Mondays to Friday